Monday, 24 February 2014

Just a Little Faith

Do I doubt the existence of God? Well the short answer is, "No!" 

Before getting hung up about what Holy Scripture and the Church claim God to be, where might we find this much argued about entity? Now already I have jumped ahead of myself. What about all those people who are outside the Church? What about all the atheists who do not believe? I suspect that many non-believers, a term that seems to be less raw and vaguely non-specific than 'atheist', find themselves in that state because they already have certain ideas about what God is, or is supposed to be, ideas that do not match up to their wishes and expectations. As I have said before, a study of the Old Testament God might, with some justification, lead one to suppose that God is the ego writ large across the cosmos. Faced with that definition of God, I would willingly join the side of the unbelievers and other atheists.

All my experience tells me that God, or whatever this inner Presence is that I choose to call God, is to be found way down inside myself, at a much deeper level than my ego. It seems to me that at the very least, God may be seen as that which exhibits a healthy impulse towards a restorative balance, countering the essentially divisive nature of the ego. Thus God is neither the property of any particular religion, sect or group, nor something that fits comfortably in any individual's handbag or wallet. The difficulty that arises here is that we are capable of experiencing great and sometimes frightening power in our inner lives, power that refuses to be tamed and made into a docile pet, yet at the same time being impossible to define.  And with true human genius, we all too often deny what we do not understand. Give it another name and the problem goes away. Simple really, except that the problem, if problem it is, does not go away. Acceptance, even as a working hypothesis is, apparently, far too difficult a task to consider.

As time passes it becomes ever more difficult for me to remember the mindset in which my ego-consciousness was my only reality. From my present standpoint, within the womb of eternity, I see that that earlier mindset was only ever one part of what I am, a part that seemed to be set inflexibly in stone. And for all its arrogant displays of power, it was always the very minor part. Ultimately, I came to see that my perceived reality was unreal, and that indefinable third dimension of my being which made me whole, and which I had blatantly ignored for so long, was in fact my inner, and only true, reality. Yet there is still a link, an almost invisible umbilicus, that connects my reality to my unreality. One day that link will end, but not yet, not quite yet. The final breaking of that link, or the dispensing with the need for a link within a greater oneness, is an adventure which still awaits.

Why am I here? What is my real purpose in life? That is a question which I answered, at least in part, in an earlier post, "The Chalice". But is that the whole story, or does that requirement 'to love one another' feed into a hierarchy of purposes? It is said, and can be demonstrated well enough through the laws of thermodynamics, that the universe is in a state of increasing entropy. Put simply, the universe is running down and will end its days in a cold-death. But there are two sides to every equation. Where has all the indestructible energy gone in this cold end-universe? I would like to say 'quite simply', except that the processes are 'quite complex', in the conversion to enthalpy, an ever-increasing complexity.

There must be limits to the degree of complexity that can be attained in the physical universe. The laws of physics indicate that there are limits on what can be considered as viable living creatures.  But here we are dealing with the physical; what of the psycho-spiritual universe? It would seem that there are no discernible limitations on the complexity of Mind, on that ultimate process of becoming. It is there that perhaps I come closest to a concept of God, a self-active blueprint of what might be, or of what could be. Whatever may lie ahead, I for one have only just begun that journey. 

Perhaps a little faith in the possibility of something greater, something worth working towards, is one place to begin, for is not faith a part of the spectrum of love? And is not love the needful goal of all sentient existence? Is it perhaps that love is the means, the finger that points towards an as yet unknowable Reality?    


  1. I love your last paragraph, Tom!

  2. I think love is probably more than merely the finger that points....

    It seems to be the common interpretation to view the saying "God is love" as some kind of allegory or metaphor. But I don't think that's it. I think it's a syllogism, and equation. To experience genuine love of life IS to experience God. They are indeed one and the same thing.

  3. In answer to a question put to him about the origin of life, Darwin said, 'The whole matter is far too profound for the human intellect; a dog might as easily contemplate the mind of Newton'.

    From my own viewpoint as an elderly dog, I've been thrilled by the concept that we inhabit an intelligent and life friendly universe ever since I first read about the unique characteristics that allow our presence in it. Even before I read about them, I felt something enormous and indescribable was afoot.

    There may be millions or even billions of other universes where life didn't evolve, but the fact we inhabit one that did is a marvel to me. The big bang had just the right amount of force to allow the universe to expand at a pace perfectly suited to the evolution of life. If it had gone off with more force, the cosmos would, by now, be empty; if there had been less force the universe would have collapsed. Then there is the ease with which carbon (the basis for life and the emergence of intelligence) forms as well as the universe's three-dimensional structure that allows life as we know it to exist. And these are just a few of the marvels that allow us to be. The very fact that the sun and the moon appear to be exactly the same size from our earthly perspective I choose to see as a sign of the limitless love of an unknowable deity.

    Perhaps I'm silly (and there are people who'd agree), but I like to imagine that we are on a great journey of discovery as the universe awakens to consciousness.

    Nice post, Tom, and nice prompt for me to expound about things I don't really understand. How could I? (woof)

  4. Marja-Leena: I must say I rather liked it myself. :)

  5. Geezers (Do you go by any other appellation?); There is always a part of me that says, "Yes but!" or "Really?" I would also make the point that as infinity is a point towards which things may move, without ever being able to reach it, and since God might be said to be the closest to infinity that one can conceive, there might be a tiny gap between God and the experience of God as Love.

    Having said that, I do not have anything 'concrete' on which to base a counter proposition. I am, therefore, happy enough to accept your assertion that God and Love (and Life) are one and the same......for now. :)

  6. Susan; What a bubbly, enthusiastic response. I cannot say that I have ever been in favour of the hypothesis of an intelligently designed universe, which is where some people might go from your ideas. As I pointed out in my response to 'The Geezers', "Yes buts" and "Reallys?" (or should that be "Reallies?") are constant companions of mine. On the other hand, I am constantly in awe of the drive of this Life-force that inhabits the universe, and its diligent seeking out of every environment in which it can make headway and establish itself.

    With that thought in mind, is it not conceivable - and I wouldn't suggest it to be any more than that - that space-time is gestating within the womb of eternity? This was a thought which has popped into mind during my recent posts; that Life is developing throughout the universe as we know it, awaiting a time of birthing into something unimaginable.

    I think that the power of the imagination is one of Life's greatest gifts, to be used with wisdom. So, "Silly?" That's a judgemental term to be used by those who perhaps, and sadly, are unable to use their imaginations. It was once said by a very wise guy that, "Unless you become as little children...." And imagination is the life-blood of the child. It gives them, and us, wholeness.

  7. Tom, I wholly agree that the descriptions of God given in the Bible and almost all other sacred writings of any religion are a hindrance, an obstacle, rather than an encouragement to discover what faith in God (whatever this word may signify) might actually mean. You have put it very well in this and other posts. It would be very interesting to hear a debate on this subject between you and, say, a scientist who asserts that life, the universe and everything can be explained perfectly well without introducing a deity or other supernatural force. What this opinion (I see it only as an opinion, nothing more) leaves out is that if God is a Presence that cannot be defined but only felt and imagined, then perhaps it is necessary to have very deep feelings and a highly developed imagination to get anywhere near the truth about God.

  8. Oh my. As to entropy, the degree of disorder in a closed system, we definitely need that. Entropy is always accompanied by heat and we are, after all, in a state of slow combustion --metabolism. Our few senses use this as the arrow of time. But there are other ways of organizing events, and we can understand a few of them as sentience seeks ever-expanding fields of organization. In short, in a universe where all possibilities are assembled, it would be imprudent to rule out God.

  9. Natalie; I suspect that such a debate as you suggest would quickly become a very frustrating exercise. First because it would seem likely that the kind of scientist who holds the views with which you credit him/her, is likely (but not certainly) to wish to defend a particular stance. In which case, and here I come to my second reason, as I have no interest in trying to convert anyone to my point of view (I can after all be wrong!), I would be likely to listen, consider the validity of the other's arguments, and then walk away.

    In the end this is not an intellectual exercise, and that is why I totally concur with the final point in your comment.

  10. Geo; I have no argument with your comment. And the path of prudence is one of wisdom.

  11. Amazing the scope of ideas here Tom.

    Among the delicious possibilities let me add two.

    Our little linear lives could somehow be part of the grand plan. I for one certainly hope so.

    This power we are calling Love, or God just might not be of time. This power and consciousness might be outside of time, able to span these billions of years we call the life of the universe as easily as we flip pages in a book. Back and forth.

    Just don't ask what such an amazing consciousness would look like from the perspective of one as limited as I. Godlike?

  12. Halle; Glad you liked this post, and the possibilities are endless. The lesson for me here is that nothing can be discounted simply on the grounds of lack of direct experience. The history of mankind has been that 'if we can, we will'. The history of life as we have observed it also follows the principle 'if it can, it will'. If this is genuinely a law of life, then we and the universe are limited only by the discriminatory limits of our imaginations. Of course there will inevitably some limits imposed by the material universe, which is consistent and non-chaotic, but that leaves a great deal of room for exploration and development.